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Avacta (AVCT) is a pre-clinical biotechnology company and the proprietary owner of Affimer technology. Affimers represent a radical alternative to the established antibody technology, which continues to dominate the drug industry, despite its limitations. The significant technical and commercial benefits of Affimers are being recognised through increased corporate interest, on-going evaluations, and deal flow. AVCT recently strengthened its board with the appointment of Eliot Forster, ex-Immunocore CEO, as non-executive Chairman. This move provides greater expertise in maximising the potential of the Affimers as a therapeutic platform.

  • Strategy: AVCT is aiming to commercialise its Affimer technology through licensing for research and diagnostics, and by identifying and developing its own proprietary therapeutic pipeline for partnering. AVCT has sufficient cash resources to identify an Affimer lead to be ready for first-in-man trials in 2020.
  • New Chairman: Dr Eliot Forster has been appointed non-executive Chairman of the company, with immediate effect. The former Chairman, Dr Trevor Nichols, will remain on the Board as a non-executive director. Eliot brings a wealth of experience in the development of novel therapeutics, and an extensive network.
  • Background: Eliot was CEO of Immunocore, a biotechnology company developing novel T-cell receptor-based biological drugs to treat cancer, viral infection and autoimmune disease. He has an entrepreneurial aptitude and was recently secured the largest ever Series A biotech financing round in Europe.
  • Risks: Affimers represent a new disruptive technology and the potential customer base might take time to recognise their advantages. While all new drug development carries a high risk, Avacta has hit a number of important milestones over the last two years which have reduced the risk profile.
  • Investment summary: AVCT has made considerable progress towards its goal of having its own proprietary Affimer-based drugs and growing a profitable reagents business. By itself, the company has identified potential leads and completed both in vitro and in vivo pharmacokinetic pre-clinical, efficacy and immunogenicity tests. Awareness of the potential of Affimers is also being enhanced through the rising number of collaborative deals being signed.
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